Come holiday season 2020, we’ll have to make a choice. Do we follow Sony down its unique path marked with exciting exclusives and an intriguing controller? Or do we buckle up for a ride with Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, which is shaping up to be a powerhouse of a gaming unit?
Since there’s still time until a decision must be made, I’m happy to guide and steer with cold-hard facts about the upcoming consoles. Below, you’ll find ten quick facts about the Xbox Series X that are sure to give you chills and make your wallet sing.
Or, you know, you’ll just be less indecisive about which console to buy.
1. A Powerhouse of a Console
Suppose power is your primary focus for every new console release. In that case, you’re going to love what Microsoft has in store with the Xbox Series X.
We’re talking a 12 teraflop GBU, which is expected to outshine the Xbox One X twofold. It even rivals the top graphics cards on the market, like the GeForce RTX 2080. The Xbox Series X will also feature AMD’s Zen 2, which is four times more powerful than the CPU in the Xbox One X.
All of this will be used to help bring 8K gaming to life. Or, for those who haven’t quite jumped on those incredibly expensive 8K TVs, 4K gaming at 120Hz.
2. It Features a Solid-State Drive
Yes, Sony gets to tout the PS5’s proprietary 5.8 GB reader, but Microsoft isn’t lagging far behind with the Xbox Series X hard drive.
We’d love to think that means loading screens are a thing of the past – which could be a problem for those that use them as a bathroom break.
3. Heat Won’t Be an Issue
With the Xbox Series X, you won’t have to be concerned about overheating. Microsoft’s engineers came up with multiple ways to keep the console’s power from affecting its internal temperature.
A split motherboard will evenly control temperatures while the heat-sink chassis is used to improve airflow. So temperatures don’t spike in one component, the Xbox Series X is also built with a vapor chamber.
Of course, the most critical component to keeping the Xbox cooled is the whisper-quiet fan. Microsoft clearly doesn’t want its next console to replace the PS4 fan memes.
4. It’s Compatible with Xbox One Accessories
Don’t start selling your Xbox One accessories just yet. Though there will be exciting new offerings with the Series X, all peripherals for the Xbox One will work with the next-generation console.
Yes, that even means the Kinect, though Microsoft hasn’t offered any glimmer of hope for its camera. There are some issues regarding the headsets and a lack of SPDIF optical audio, but Microsoft has promised an eventual workaround.
Even the Xbox One controller will be functional with the Series X. However, you may want to consider sticking with the new, upgraded controller.
5. The Controller Gets an Upgrade
Microsoft already hit a home run with the Xbox One controller. Somehow, developers found a few ways to make the Xbox Series X controller even better.
Among the more noticeable changes are the shape of the D-pad, which is contoured to better fit the player’s thumb and improve response, and an integrated “share” button that takes screenshots and video clips.
The controller also has textured triggers and is slightly smaller than the Xbox One version. Despite being criticized for it, Microsoft has opted to keep the controller running off of AA batteries, with a charge-and-play option available separately.
6. Xbox Smart Delivery Will Be the Key to Upgrading
Whenever a new generation of consoles releases, players are left wondering what will happen with cross-generational games they’ve sunk so much time into.
For the Xbox 360 launch, some may not have immediately jumped onto the console, but were hours into games like Need for Speed: Most Wanted when they eventually did. If they wanted to move from the Xbox to Xbox 360 version, it meant losing their progress. With Smart Delivery, that is a thing of the past.
When you buy a game, you’ll be purchasing the best accessible version of that game. Say you have an Xbox One X and buy a game releasing on the Xbox Series X. Smart Delivery will first download the best playable Xbox One version, but when you upgrade to the Series X, the console will download the version optimized for the next-generation.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a prime example of a game supported by Smart Delivery. Expected to launch in September on the Xbox One, the CD PROJEKT RED title will also have a Series X optimized version that will automatically download onto the new console.
7. Xbox Live Gold Isn’t Going Anywhere
Rumors were floating around that Microsoft was rebranding or entirely removing Xbox Live Gold. Unfortunately, paid multiplayer subscriptions will still be a thing on the Xbox Series X. The plus of that, though, is that players don’t have to worry about some convoluted and more expensive online program releasing, muddying the multiplayer waters.
As of the writing of this piece, Xbox Live Gold subscriptions will carry over seamlessly when an account is linked with the console. One multiplayer perk, though, is that Halo: Infinite’s multiplayer will be free. Players will not have to purchase the single-player game to partake in the online, chaotic fray.
8. Ray Tracing and Realistic Audio Enhance Gameplay
Audio design is getting some love with the next-generation of consoles.
The Series X will utilize a dedicated audio chip to deliver 3D audio acceleration. When used with the ray trace audio that’s also being introduced, the console is capable of optimizing sound for a fully-immersive experience.
The dedicated chip frees up CPU power while still creating simulated and dynamic 3D audio. Path-traced 3D audio follows the player’s position and adjusts the minutiae of different sounds. Each effect will change depending on the environment and direction, creating a realistic audio experience yet to be heard on consoles.
9. Cross-Generational Play
You may not have touched your library of Xbox and Xbox 360 games since the Xbox One release, but Microsoft wants to give players a choice.
With the Xbox Series X, games from all iterations of Xbox will be playable. The console’s SSD, GPU, and CPU will enhance older games, so they play unlike ever before.
While even the Xbox Series X can’t make the ugliest original Xbox game look like a next-gen title, you may notice a spike in framerates and improved rendering.
10. Pause Multiple Games at Once
How often do you find yourself wanting to swap between two different games, but can’t because only one can be open at a time? It’s definitely a conundrum when two AAA titles release close to one another. However, it’s a problem no more with the Xbox Series X.
Microsoft confirmed that players will be able to pause multiple games at once. Building upon the Xbox One’s “Instant On” feature, which allows games to boot up immediately from where the player left off, this innovation will make it possible to bounce between games on the fly.
When you get tired of continuously failing a mission in one game, you can immediately load up a different game and take it out on its villains.
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